Which Way Do We Go?


While Route 66 was the raison d’être of our trip, we would actually have to travel a lot more. First, we would have to get from New York to Chicago, to the Route’s starting point, and then we would have to get back to New York from California, once we made it out there.

Now we could have chosen to just do the “return” via Route 66, but we thought it might be a good idea to go back another way, and benefit from the opportunity to see and do some other things, too. After much research and some debate, we came up with an itinerary that would take us across the southwest and back via the southeast covering a total of 25 states (that is HALF the states in the U.S.A.), even if just passing through a corner here or there.

The route we chose was long, and would make for lots of driving, but it would also give us a taste of history, and a sampling of the amazing natural beauty that ranges across the country. From our starting point in the northeast, we would cross the great plains into the southwestern deserts on the way to the pacific coast before doubling back and going as far south as the Mexican border, then coming around through the Louisiana bayous before stopping at New Orleans on the way home via the “deep south.”


Many people who are going to drive Route 66, fly into Chicago and rent a car, but we wanted to do the trip in our own Jeep, so there was no option for us other than starting from our homebase in New York. However, possibilities began to multiply once we were off Long Island and onto the “mainland” of the U.S.A. We decided to try to get to Chicago as quickly as possible in order to have the maximum time available for Route 66. Looking at a map, we picked out the “fastest” route, which was basically a straight line on I-80 from New Jersey all the way to Illinois. That worked out to roughly 900 miles! It would take a minimum of two solid days of driving. Because we wanted to camp as much as possible, we would need to look for a stop-over somewhere near the mid-point that had “primitive” tent camping.

We could have chosen to camp in western Pennsylvania, which would have been more of a true “midpoint,” but we had been camping in that area before. Determined to make this whole trip about new discoveries, we would have to go further, someplace we had never been yet — Ohio.

Looking for parks in eastern Ohio, near our route, we were surprised to find a very large National Park right there. The Cuyahoga Valley National Park actually spans 22 miles of the Cuyahoga river, and has a few primitive campsites in a beautiful woodland clearing that is just 15 minutes away from the interstate. It was the perfect choice!

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